FRANZ KAFKA (1883–1924) was a leading German author of novels and short stories.
His most influential works, The Metamorphosis, The Trial, and The Castle, are filled with themes of alienation, physical and psychological brutality, parent–child conflict, labyrinths of bureaucracy, and mystical transformations.
Vladimir Nabokov praised Kafka as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. The breadth of Kafka’s literary vision and the depth of his extraordinary imagination has been so influential that the term “Kafkaesque” has become part of the English language.
W. H.Auden has said, “Had one to name the author who comes nearest to bearing the same kind of relations to our age as Dante, Shakespeare, and Goethe bore to theirs, Kafka is the first one would think of.”
Metamorphosis, his most famous work, is an exploration of horrific transformation and estrangement. Kafka has created the most absurd situation: Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman, wakes up one morning to find that he has turned into a giant dung beetle. Kafka uses the absurdity of this premise to exemplify how Gregor (the man-bug) frees himself from a life of servitude to assert his own personal identity through his metamorphosis. Even when Gregor's family is contemplating murdering him, Kafka injects a satirical wit into the work so that the portraits of the human soul he paints are a startling juxtaposition of anxiety and beauty. It is often cited as one of the seminal works of fiction of the 20th century.